MELBOURNE ZOO – The Mandrills

2011, 12, 13 & for a short time, 2014, Melbourne Zoo was one of my favourite Photography destinations.  Trying to get a single focal point through tiny 3/8″ (yes, 3/8″) wire in some of the cages proved to be the best way to practice holding my (then) new Canon DLSR & heavy lenses perfectly still in the early years of my Photography hobby.

Primates and Meerkats were my favoured subjects (until I moved on to bird photography) and I went to Melbourne’s main zoo in North Melbourne over 100 times.  The (mainly) temperate rainforest landscaping at that time,  proved to be heavenly on a hot summer’s day and sometimes I could go as often as 3 times a week to escape the blisteringly hot sun and  humidity in Melbourne mid-summer.   The single entrance fees were not cheap, but you only have to visit 3 times in any one year to make an annual membership worthwhile, so I certainly got my money’s worth going something like 40+ times in the first year alone.

In fact, (and this is no exaggeration), there was one Spider monkey who I visited so often, who eventually came to recognise me and would come bounding up to the glass near the top of the large enclosure and put his hand out to ‘touch’ mine through the glass.  I spent ages photographing and cultivating a unique relationship with it (and the Black-capped Capuchins).

But I also had some great opportunities for close-up shots in late November 2011 and January 2012 of the Mandrills.

I never seemed to see them up close in the following years.

Outside School Holidays was the best for photography, but I’m a pretty patient person and also enjoyed watching the delight on the faces of small children, noses pressed up to the glass, squealing with excitement.  There can be no better place to take children to create an understanding of animal behaviour and appreciating the great job zoos do in breeding and increasing nearly extinct or endangered species (as well as gaining a close-up view of Australia’s indigenous birds, reptiles, animals and insects).

Melbourne Zoo is so much fun, is not too large and has great interactive and walk-through enclosures to get up close to birds, insects and animals.  There are also private sessions to ‘Meet and Greet’ some of the animals with their Keepers.

 

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THE WOMBAT – Melbourne Zoo

I mentioned in a reply to a commenter in the last post that Koalas are not actually bears.

The koala is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. It is the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae and its closest living relatives are the wombats.

So a few images of Wombats  from Melbourne Zoo seems to be worth posting.  I’ve seen many Wombat holes/homes in the wild or Australian bush, but never an animal (that I remember) but then I don’t go out much at night 🙂

From the Archives – 2011 and 2012

In a wombat burrow at Melbourne Zoo (lit by special lighting).  I was standing in pitch black in an underground tunnel when I took these shots, so its pretty hard not to bump into other zoo visitors when you walk though this  area.

…….and above ground

A Break in Proceedings (and glasses)

My glasses snapped in half last Friday and I’m using a pair of glasses from about 5 years ago which give me a headache, or should I say make my constant headaches worse (as they seem to be a bit too small, of all things – maybe my head is getting too big 😀 ).

That, together with new BP meds prescribed on Friday (which are working like a miracle) and my continuing swollen ankles (which means I still can’t wear socks and lace-up walking shoes contribute to keeping me mostly indoors).

I’ve decided to reduce my blog reading to mainly the blogs with minimal writing and mostly photos, so please don’t be offended if I’ve stopped following you (and you’re a writer).

Besides, at 42C (about 108F) yesterday, it’s starting to feel like summer, so it’s indoors and  air-con for most of the afternoon and evening a few days each week.  Cool change overnight dropped the temps about 20 degrees, so hopefully the 140 odd bush, or grass, fires in my state are under better control this morning.  A lovely cool breeze coming in the window over my desk is making me think, it might be worth going for a short walk this afternoon, albeit in soft loafer shoes (not lace-up walking shoes).

My balcony garden survived surprisingly well yesterday, but I did give the potted plants a good soaking on Friday night (in anticipation of yesterday’s heat wave).

Hopefully my eye test and ordering new glasses on Tuesday won’t hold up my computer work for too long.

But then the network & gmail keeps dropping out so it’s back to the Apple Store Tech Support desk on Tuesday too.  Grrrr!   At least the Optician and the Apple Store are near each other in the nearby large shopping centre (or Mall as you call them in the U.S.).

Ok. now, since bad luck runs in 3s, have I had my run?

Hope so.

The photo (below) must be one of the luckiest shots I’ve ever made.  In October 2013, I could see a white blob high up in an enormous old tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne.   It was made from a very long distance away and it was only a shaft of sunlight that highlighted the spot as the rest of the tree was in shade.  I took a lucky guess and aimed towards the top of the white blob and you can well imagine my surprise when I downloaded the afternoon’s shooting and discovered that it was a Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaefuineae) in surprisingly good focus.

….and another series to keep you amused (below).  Most of these Koala shots were made in January of 2013 at Melbourne Zoo.

I’ve seen Koalas in the wild, but never on the ground before this particular zoo outing (below).  Another lucky…… right time, right place.

koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

I’m a great believer in that all things in life happen for a reason.

Maybe a lesson to be learned.

Maybe a chance to be move on from a difficult relationship or situation.

Maybe the Photography Angel is looking over my shoulder on a particular day’s Nature Walk.

Maybe I need to stop procrastinating and JUST DO IT.

And maybe that visit to the Optician for an eye test I kept putting off since I moved 16 months ago should have been attended to earlier 🙂  That’s the trouble with moving house.  You have to find all new service providers.

……… and locations for Photography.

RED-TAILED BLACK-COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus banksii) – The Great Aviary, Melbourne Zoo

From the Archives……..

We have some beautiful Lorikeets, Cockatoos, Corellas and Parrots in Australia.

I’ve seen several in the wild, but I’ve only seen the Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo in the Great Aviary at Melbourne Zoo.  The small yellow spots on its head and white beak indicate it’s a female.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii)

 

FRECKLED DUCK (Stictonetta naevosa) – The Great Aviary, Melbourne Zoo

Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

The Freckled Duck has to be one of the most drab and ordinary waterfowl around and to be honest, one that I’ve photographed a few times but hesitant to share online.

But I guess birds can’t all have dazzling plumage merely to make them interesting or Photogenic.

Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

I did read somewhere or other that it is rarely seen in the wild, but I suspect that’s more to do with their ability to blend into their surroundings as much as reduced numbers.  Apparently, it is often mistaken for other breeds and shot by hunters during the duck-shooting season here in Australia.

It’s beak is characteristically wedge-shaped, slightly upturned at the tip and the male becomes bright red over the base when breeding.

But I was glad I’d photographed it in the end as its fanned tail helped me identify a Musk Duck down at St Kilda beach one day (which looks very nondescript and similar).

Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

 

 

BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – MELBOURNE ZOO

Having recently retrieved an old back-up file, I have loads more bird images in my archives and I was thinking last night that maybe I should share some more of them.

I’ve always re-shared my favourite images – usually herons – but perhaps you might enjoy some of the ‘not shared before‘ bird species.

The shots I consider pretty ordinary.

Not close enough to the bird, or the light was poor, or I could only get a shot of their rear end as they were in a tree over my head and ‘bottoms’ were all I could see.

I kept this image of the bottom of a Satin Bower Bird as I like the feather pattern, but seriously, one of these days I’m going to get bird poop on my camera lens or glasses.

The images I made some years ago of the Buff-banded Rail fall into this category.  I lightened the exposure of a few shots last night in pp and its a bit easier to see this bird within the frame.   I always thought I’d go back and re-shoot this species, but of course after 3 years zoo membership and about 100+ visits, I let my Zoo membership lapse, thinking to go on to photographing landscapes, or more street photography, (which hasn’t happened I might add, well not much anyway).

During many hot summer days I’d go to the zoo 3 times a week as the temperate rainforest landscaping of Melbourne’s main zoo, (we have 3 zoos), offered me much relief from the heat.  Sometimes I’d go and spent the whole afternoon in the Great Aviary until the loud speaker system indicated it was 15 minutes to closing time, then there was always a mad scramble to get to the back entrance/exit which linked with the city-bound tram line.

I rarely used the front entrance of the zoo.

So here’s some photos (as well as some of the Great Aviary so you know the area I’m talking about and can gain an appreciation of the massive size of this structure).  There’s a water course running through which ends up in a pond when many of the storks or other large birds do their mating dance.  I’ve been lucky enough to see several courtships.

This is about the best out of all the shots.  I lightened the exposure last night so you can see the colour and feather pattern a bit more easily.

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This is a series of Aviary shots I made over several visits and show how large it is.  The long space is broken up into 3 climate zones, although you can’t see much at the far end which is very thick rainforest.  Some images may look similar, but they have actually been made from opposite ends of the boardwalk.

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Some days you get lucky and other days the birds are high up near the roof basking in the winter sunshine leaving only a silhouette to shoot, OR hiding in the shadows of the long  boardwalk in the heat of Melbourne’s long humid summer.

Some birds, like the finches, are housed in smaller cages in another area of the zoo, although since it’s a couple of years since I’ve visited, they may have been re-housed in newer viewing areas constructed more recently.

One afternoon I went specifically to visit the Aviary and it was closed for renovation, so if you’re visiting Melbourne, always best to check their website or ring first if you want to visit a specific area.

Melbourne Zoo is open 365 days per year and one year, I even went on Christmas Day.  Best not to go during Melbourne’s school holidays though – the crowd makes it difficult to get close to many of the animal viewing windows or cages.  I’ve gone with young family members a couple of times, but to be honest I’d rather visit on my own so I can spend long periods practicing photography on the bird, animal or reptile exhibit I particularly like.

As to photography, well, Melbourne Zoo is where I learnt how to photograph through tiny wire, thick foliage and hold my first DSLR very, very still.  It’s a great photography learning experience.  You do need to change your DSLR focus points from the usual 9 to 1 to get through 1/4″ wire though.

You need to have the bird (or animal) a certain distance behind the wire and your own position a certain distance from the cage wire.  Maybe I need to go back to the zoo for a ‘refresher’ course, as some of my bird shots are a bit wobbly these days.  I can’t get shots between tiny cage wire with my Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera though, only my Canon DLSR.

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No doubt many of the zoo’s exhibits and some of the landscaping have changed since I was there a couple of years ago.

ROSE-CROWNED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus regina) – MELBOURNE ZOO

We have several beautiful Doves and Pigeons in Australia, but I’ve only seen 6-7 in the wild.

Back in 2014, I photographed one that normally lives in the northern warmer states in woodland, forest and scrubby parkland with fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, and its a beauty.  Initially I saw it in the humidity of the Butterfly House at Melbourne Zoo, but it was not until many zoo visits later that I saw it in its own large enclosure and found out its name.

The Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove is medium-sized and spectacularly coloured.  The female is slightly less so, but they do have a loud distinctive cooing sound.  I wish I could see one in the wild because although we have large, well landscaped enclosures at Melbourne Zoo, it’s not really the same thing.  Actually, we have many wild birds, large and small, that are wild in the Zoo, no doubt attracted to the regular feeding times.

WARATAH (Telopea) – Melbourne Zoo Landscaping

From the Archives – 15th October 2013.

Waratahs are evergreen shrubs or trees that are densely foliated and the large red flowers are among Australia’s best known wildflowers.

The one in this post was photographed at Melbourne Zoo near the enormous lion enclosure.

This particular enclosure is/was? massive, (might have changed since I was there a couple of years ago), and has a high fenced boardwalk going over the top, so no matter where the lions are (outdoors), you get a great view of them.

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I’ve even managed to photograph the animals through the tough chain wire fence.  If you do enough photography practice getting one focal point through tiny wire netting and cages, I can assure you it’s relatively easy.